What is Intuitive Eating?

By Lizette Scialom, well-being and nutrition coach

Have you heard of intuitive eating?

It's an approach to food and wellness that has nothing to do with diet, discipline or willpower. Quite the contrary!

It's based on the idea that your body intuitively knows when it's hungry or when it's full, and that you're the only person who should be making food decisions for yourself.

Developed by two dieticians in 1995, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, it allows us to interrupt the cycle of chronic diets and relearn how to trust our relationship with food.

It's not about what we eat, it's about who we are as eaters, our history, our thoughts and our beliefs. These are factors that impact our relationship to food and the way we eat.

"An intuitive eater is defined as someone who makes food choices without experiencing guilt or ethical dilemmas, honors hunger, respects satiety, and fully enjoys the pleasure of eating."

It even goes beyond mindful eating, which consists of being present in the food experience. Rather than simply suggesting a nonjudgmental presence while you eat, intuitive eating encourages you to rediscover the pleasure of eating and soothe our – often conflicting – relationship with food , by stopping, for example, counting calories or ban certain foods.

Intuitive eating thus teaches us to get in touch with our body's signals; his needs, his hunger, and his satiety. It's about relearning how to eat outside of the diet mentality, focusing on our internal needs.

The pursuit of thinness is rooted in Western culture. More and more diets restrict caloric intake, require external dietary rules to induce weight loss.

Also, traditional diets that restrict energy or certain nutrients for weight loss rarely have long-term success. There is evidence that repeat dieting is even associated with weight gain.

With this overflow of contradictory information, food has become intellectual and cerebral and these factors take us away from the intuitive being that we are, our ability to eat with detachment, without guilt or calculation.

What benefits to expect?

According to a review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 1 , researchers compiled data from several studies on intuitive eating and found various physical and mental benefits, including:

  • Reduction of food compulsions
  • A healthier and more harmonious relationship with food
  • Decrease in depression and anxiety
  • Better body image

How to practice intuitive eating?

To eat intuitively, we must know how to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger and begin to be aware of it to avoid filling our emotional hunger with food.

Physical Hunger : This biological drive tells you to fill up on nutrients. It sets in gradually and presents different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue or irritability. Hunger is satisfied when you eat.

Emotional hunger : it is driven by an emotional need. Anger, sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the feelings that can create food cravings, often comfort foods. Eating then provokes a feeling of guilt.

The intuitive eater gives themselves unconditional permission to eat whatever they want without feeling guilty . Listening to our body, we will eat according to its needs, its level of energy, its digestive well-being, its level of stress, without excess or frustration, and the weight goes back down to its starting point. 'balance.

Experience! At your next meal, ask yourself what does your body crave/need today? To get started, follow the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating .

  1. A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues

Julie T Schaefer , Amy B Magnuson 2014 May;114(5):734-60

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. by Evelyn Tribole , Elyse Resch


Lizette Scialom is a well-being and nutrition coach, certified "Mind Body Nutrition Coach". She practices at the Vitruvius Center , a medical center specializing in holistic and integrative care of body and mind.

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